By Ilsy J. Hoo
Love can mend your life or love can break your heart…
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These lyrics of The Police song “Message in a Bottle” are so true. How do we cope with love that’s lost? Whether after a divorce or a long-term relationship gone awry, is it possible to stay hopeful that love can still occur?
Many people struggle with questions such as these, and dwelling on them can often lead to depression or a loss in faith in oneself or others. “It is important for an individual to feel happy and satisfied with oneself. However, at times, one may feel stuck heading toward these goals,” explains says Dr. Kelly Gorsky, a licensed mental health counselor and certified life coach based in Staten Island, NY. The solution? Surround yourself with positive people and self-help can be an optimistic attribute to recovery. Happiness is possible, even if you need a helping hand in the process.
Overcoming the Pain
During my own divorce, I felt a sense of loss and pain, as if I’d experienced the death of family member. I found myself mourning for a very long time, but put on a false happy persona for the sake of my children and work. I knew I wasn’t alone and there were others who felt the same way during this type of emotional transition.
Throughout her divorce, Toya Grant-Rivera of Chesapeake, Virginia, also felt a sense of loss and disappointment. She realized that her first husband was her best friend and they were very much compatible in ways she didn’t realize until after they were separated. “I was embarrassed and felt that I had failed as a wife. I didn’t want to admit my failure to anyone.”
“It’s absolutely normal to feel grief and mourning,” says Dr. Gorsky. She suggests taking some important initial steps to help you get through this emotional process. “Be confident in the decision that needs to be made. Surround yourself with positive people who love you and [avoid] getting involved immediately in a relationship that can lead to the same cycle or issues you haven’t yet identified.”
Take Ownership of What Went Wrong
According to Dr. Gorsky, taking ownership of what contributed to the end of the relationship is key to healing and moving on. “Not going backwards nor pointing the finger at the other party [but instead] looking at what you contributed to end the relationship will help identify what mistakes you can avoid in future relationships.”
So how do you figure out and admit the mistakes you made in the past? It took a great deal of time for me to realize such missteps during my first marriage and how I could have prevented them from happening. I took ownership of my mistakes and with the help of a life coach counselor, when I was ready for another serious relationship, I had already identified those things I needed to change and to accept in others.
Toya admitted that one of the reasons her marriages failed was from a lack of compromise. After her two failed marriages, she took time to examine her issues and work on them before getting involved in a new relationship. “I decided to examine the constant – me – to know what I wanted and needed from any prospective suitor.”
Having Faith in Love Again
For some, having faith in love again can be difficult especially after a traumatic breakup. But take it from those who have loved and lost, and then loved again – there is hope if you take some time to heal, as well to identify and accept the reasons why the last relationship ended.
Being in a loving marriage or relationship is a gift and it takes hard work, compromise, patience, acceptance and faith. For Toya, being happy and fulfilled was a must for her: “Being in a committed relationship is one of the things that makes me happy,” she says. “The feeling of learning [about] and loving someone and knowing that their heart beats only for you are amazingly beautiful. Don’t let one – or, in my case, two – bad experiences rob of you that.”
“Keep in mind that compassion, understanding, empathy and unconditional support are elements that can help during the therapeutic process,” says, Dr. Gorsky. Love is a magical and fragile thing that may not always be there, but it is worth continuing to hope for.